By Laura Welch
If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, then Japan has been doing its honest best to compliment the cuisines of the world for years. One of the most common is Italian, which is also one of the most popular. Capricciosa is said to be the restaurant that started this Italian dining boom. Interestingly, this chain of restaurants, now with an international presence, is part of a group which is also behind the well-known Hard Rock Cafe chain.
It must be popular, but it still lacks lunchtime customers, if its inclusion in the Sendai Lunch Passport is anything to go by. There are 4 stores in the Sendai area, and 2 of these are included in the lunch passport. I went to the one in Clis Road.
The restaurant is a small place on the second floor. The décor is clearly inspired by an idea of Italy; it's similar to Italian restaurants I've been to back home. Outdoor-style lamps on the walls provide low lighting to the wall mural of the “Foro Romano”. Another feature is that, like many Japanese restaurants, there is a smoking section.
The lunch passport, which gives a reduced price on the lunchtime buffet, brought in a lot of customers on the day I went. The serving staff dealt well with the influx, keeping the buffet topped up.
The buffet deal, which includes a serving of pasta, is small but impressive. One thing that struck me was the wide selection of drinks. They weren't from a machine, but lined up in jugs like a rainbow of potions in an old-fashioned apothecary. These original drinks included vegetable juice, drinking vinegar, blueberry and blackcurrant mix and cold oolong tea. The main buffet table held salad and bread. You can mix the different salad ingredients yourself, from a colorful choice of carrot and daikon radish, beansprouts, sweetcorn, varieties of lettuce, seaweed, cucumber and pasta. There's also three choices of dressing – a creamy sesame, Japanese style or onion. The bread wasn't at all authentic, but it was fresh and tasty. Interestingly there were two sweet options – caramel or a pizza-like bread with a cranberry sauce and icing sugar topping. The savory breads were consomme-flavor or walnut mini rolls and a curry bread.
The normal menu includes a wide variety of soup, pastas, pizzas and dessert. It's a little more expensive than some Japanese food chains, but it's good Italian food, not over-complicated.
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